Plaza Theatre

125 Pioneer Plaza,
El Paso, TX 79901

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Plaza El Paso 1962

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Plaza Theatre opened September 12, 1930 for movies and stage shows, it had a seating capacity for 2,298. The theatre’s Atmospheric style beauty is equally matched by its glorious Spanish Colonial decor. A truly stunning movie palace, it is one of a handful of theaters that became part of the Save America’s Treasures program.

After decades as an entertainment venue for the city, the Plaza Theatre was narrowly saved from demolition in 1987 by the El Paso Community Foundation who raised $1 million for the theater’s restoration. The city later took control of the Plaza Theatre and a renovation and restoration project was underway for several years to reopen the theater.

Assisted by the Save America’s Treasures program, the Plaza Theatre received the help it needed to complete the renovation and reopened March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day), 2006 with a sold-out production of “Riverdance”.

Contributed by Kenneth W. Fedorick, Roman Herrington

Recent comments (view all 26 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 31, 2008 at 1:00 am

Plaza Theatre Mapping Problem

The official address of this theatre (125 Pioneer Plaza) will not map correctly on either Google Maps or on Microsoft’s TerraServer. However, a search at either site using the address 125 W. Mills Avenue will get you pretty close- a couple of doors east on TerraServer and about a block east on Google Maps. The theatre building is then pretty easy to spot in the satellite view, given that the entrance is tucked into a corner, and that the long lobby section leading at an angle back to the main building is fairly distinctive.

ERD
ERD on October 13, 2008 at 11:18 am

A stunning theatre! One of the best restorations I’ve seen. The Plaza is a gem.

txstan
txstan on May 29, 2009 at 6:39 am

Memories! I worked as an usher and doorman at the Plaza 1950/52.
Was in El Paso about a year ago and took the guided tour which was then held on Tuesday mornings. Very interesting and well worth anyone’s time.
Much of the original interior is still in place. The one thing I noticed missing was a large beautiful painting of a Spanish lady over the stairs leading from the main floor to the mezzanine.
I do not remember the first movie I saw there (1945), but I remember the last move (The Exorcist). We sat in the mezzanine first row…my favorite seat.Movie scared the hell out of my nephew.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 10, 2009 at 10:50 pm

Here is an August 1976 article from the El Paso Herald-Post:

A hearing on the eviction notice filed against operators of the Plaza Theater has been set for 8:30 a.m. Thursday before Justice of the Peace Jesus Hernandez. Ted Cottle, realtor representing Mike Dipp, theater owner, said the notice was filed for failure to pay rent for several months. Tim Cassias, former employee of the Plaza, who has filed claim for back wages with the Texas Department of Labor and Standards, told The Herald-Post he plans to notify film distributors of irregularities in the theater’s bookkeeping. He showed documents which he said support his contention that the distributors were paid less than they were entitled to on certain films shown at the Plaza in 1975.

LANE ROBERTSON, who has headed the Plaza operation since 1973, has denied the accusations and said the documents were stolen from his desk. Cassias admitted yesterday that the papers were stolen but said he did not steal them. He said they were given to him. Both Robertson and Andy Simson said that bookkeeping errors were audit and are being worked out with the the distributors affected.

CASSIAS WORKED for the theater 14 months. He resigned June 29 after being unable to collect pay he said was due him. Mrs. Julia Breck, chairman of the theater’s board, said today, “We’re in the process of handling the situation. We are doing the best we can to pull things together.” She is among prominent local persons who Cassias said made substantial investments in the theater operation. A “Save the Plaza” campaign was held, enlisting financial support with the alternative of having the theater razed so the land could be used for other purposes.

Cottle, however, denies that Dipp ever intended to raze the Plaza after buying it in 1973. Cassias said he learned soon, after going to work at the Plaza that the owner did not really intend to raze it. He said the appeal to save the building was a deception to increase the urgency of the appeal for money.

diapason
diapason on October 24, 2009 at 2:41 pm

While we’re talking about the Plaza, let’s not neglect the great theater organist John R. Thomas who had a couple of stints as “House Organist” there. His final tenure was from 1965 until his death in 1968. In those days the theater’s management spotlighted the organ for brief programs between features, with the Wurlitzer console rising up out of its pit as the film ended, then descending just in time for the next show. John R. had an incredible talent for using all the sound effects that had been built into the Wurlitzer, in addition to all the organ’s musical resources.

DonLewis
DonLewis on May 30, 2010 at 10:44 pm

From 1938 an El Paso newsprint photo of William “Hopalong Cassidy” Boyd, Jane Clayton and a crowd of people in front of the Plaza a the gala world premiere of In Old Mexico.

matt54
matt54 on August 17, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Just returned from a visit to El Paso and was privileged to see “The Magnificent Seven” as part of the El Paso Film Festival, hosted at the theater. None of our party of five had ever been inside and, to say the least, we were simply knocked out by the theater’s beauty. Projection, unfortunately, is not so hot – pretty dim picture, sorry to say. Have noticed this same phenomenon at the Paramount in Austin. Are the projection bulbs used today just not as bright as they used to be?

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on August 17, 2010 at 6:10 pm

No they just want to run til they can’t get a light,It is the norm for most second run houses,but this place should be way above the dollar triple down the street.You should mention it,but you would think they would notice.The Bulb might need adjusting too.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 18, 2012 at 11:03 am

Commended for showmanship in this 1961 trade article: Boxoffice

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